Tag Archives: young adult fiction

2 Sentence Book Reviews: Young Adult Fiction

i’m overdue for some book reviews, and will be posting reviews of 24 books this week. as i’ve done in the past, i’m posting two sentence book reviews. in each case, the first sentence is a summary of the book; and the second sentence is my thoughts on the book. i include a 1 – 5 star rating also. and occasionally, i’ll have an additional note.

let’s get started with Young Adult Fiction:

allegiantAllegiant, by Veronica Roth
4 stars
the third and final installment in the Divergent series brings a sort of teen-led revolution and wrap up to the series. the author took some big risks (which is obvious by how many amazon reviewers were not happy with this book’s approach or ending), but i felt the risks paid off and made this final installment less predictable than it might have been.

maze runner
The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure, by James Dashner
4 stars for the first book, 3.5 stars for the other two
a group of teenagers push through a series of deadly tasks as part of an ill-formed and twisted scientific plan to rid the world of a deadly pandemic. often interesting, certainly nonstop, but ultimately uneven, with plenty of missed opportunities for deeper insight into motives, relationships, and humanity.

firecrackerFirecracker, by David Iserson
4 stars
a rich and self-centered teenage girl gets kicked out of her elite private school and is forced to attend public school as a super-smart loner with an axe to bear and lessons to learn. the writing is fantastic and the main character is brilliantly witty and snarky, though as a whole, it feels a concurrently over-the-top and lacking depth.

hollow cityHollow City, by Ransom Riggs
5 stars
the second installment of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children finds the children on the run for their lives. these books almost defy description: beautiful in writing, layout, creativity, and full of metaphorical insight into every person’s uniqueness.

tomorrow’s reviews: five fiction books

2-sentence book reviews, part 2 (young adult fiction and youth ministry)

time for another wad of 2-sentence book reviews! my format: i allow myself one sentence for summary, and one sentence for opinion (easy for some, really hard for others!).

Young Adult Fiction

Cracked, by K.M. Walton
5 stars
a bully and his prey both end up in a teen suicide psych ward at the same time and learn some things about themselves and each other. great characters and voices, and a great treatment of an important subject without being either glib or heavy-handed.

The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
5 stars
a cancer-ridden female teenage narrator wrestles with love, otherness, mortality, and hope. expertly written. it’s what could have been good about the twilight series, but with cancer instead of vampires.

Youth Ministry

Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up with Your Teenager, by Eugene H. Peterson
3.5 stars
The Message writer gives advice, rooted in both practicality and theology, to parents of teenagers. written in the 70s, it’s extremely dated in most every way, while still coming from the brilliant mind and pen of eugene peterson.

99 Thoughts about Junior High Ministry: Tips, Tricks & Tidbits for Working with Young Teenagers, by Kurt Johnston
5 stars
this book is exactly what the title says it is. not intended to be a game-changer or thought-provoker, this tiny book is a perfect gift for junior high ministry volunteers.

The Middle School Mind: Growing Pains in Early Adolescent Brains, by Richard M. Marshall and Sharon Neuman
3 stars
an educator and a psychologist team up to inform parents about young teen brains and their behavioral implications. i had high hopes for this book and was disappointed, mostly with the mediocre-story-after-mediocre-story approach, but also with the dry writing.

two-sentence book reviews, part 1 (young adult fiction)

back in the day, i used to post a full review in an individual blog post for every book i read. after rebooting my blog in the late fall of 2009, i changed that practice to posting 3 or 4 “mini reviews” at a time — one paragraph each.

but in 2011, i’ve gotten behind, and haven’t posted any reviews. i kept meaning to, but just didn’t get around to it. so, i’m catching up. and i’ve decided to do it in a different way, since i have 27 to post.


for each review, i only allowed myself two sentences. in each, the first sentence is a summary of the book, and the second sentence is my opinion of the book. i’m still giving 1 – 5 stars (5 means “excellent”, 4 means “worth reading”, 3 means “ah, take it or leave it”, 2 means “take a pass on this one”, and 1 means “do NOT buy or read this book – it sucked, imho).

up first — 7 young adult fiction books:

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, by Josh Berk
3 stars
A deaf boy chooses mainstream schooling and winds up solving a murder. There could have been so much to mine in a coming of age story for the deaf protagonist, but the murder mystery gets tacked on, feeling like a mediocre Hardy Boys plot.

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story, by Adam Rex
4 stars
A pudgy unpopular 15 year-old gets “turned” and realizes he’ll be this way forever. Good fun, and a great way to look at the inner life of a 15 year-old (who would want to stay there?).

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver
4 stars
The 2nd-in-command of a “mean girls” pack has to re-live the day of her death over and over, hoping to learn some lessons along the way. Great writing and good insights, though a tiny bit cliché.

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
4 stars
In a future time when the government controls everything, and every adult has been medically “cured” of the “disease” of love, a 17 year-old female narrator wrestles with love and free will in the weeks before her procedure. A bit sappy at times (surely, teenage girls would love this), but a very well written story with more social commentary and insight than most young adult fiction.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan
3 stars
Two identically named teenage boys, with separate (and eventually, coincidentally colliding) stories wrestle with loneliness, sexual orientation and friendship. Well written, but heavy handed in its agenda.

Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly
5 stars
A suicidal American girl finds herself and redemption from her guilt while unraveling the mystery (at times, mystical) truth about an 18th century political fugitive in Paris. Stunningly written, with fascinating detail; it’s rare to see compelling young adult fiction mixed with chunks of historical fiction.

Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys
5+ stars
A Lithuanian teenage girl narrates the story of her family being carted off by Stalin on a crushing journey across Siberia. Insightful and honest; the best YA fiction I’ve read in a while.


categories still to come for the remaining 20 two-sentence book reviews: memoir (3), illustrated novel (3, leadership (3), theology/christian living (3), youth ministry (2), fiction (2), and ‘other’ (1).